dimdim on centos (fail)

I managed to track down a copy of centos 4.5 i386 and made a VM to try to get dimdim running. I had all sorts of fun earlier trying to get it running on the much preferred debian. I was talking to a friend of mine about this attempt and he noted that when someone requests him to install some OSS software, one of his major filters is “does it install on debian?”. If it doesn’t have a deb, it fails the bar. This is a pretty good bar. There are exceptions for things like java before they relicensed it. Perhaps, “does it install on ubuntu?” is a better question.

That the “installer” for dimdim installs a pile of rpms from dimdim’s website that have nothing to do with the product (glibc? wtf?) is a great example of why we don’t use rpm based linux distributions.

1) People who don’t understand the differences between rpm/deb distros tend to not respect why packaging is essential, and do stupid shit like put system library rpms in their installer.

2) RPMs suck, and therefore RPM based distros suck. I’m not going to get into a flame war over this, but simply try to take your major RPM distro and upgrade it from one major version to the next. Then try to convince me how the steps you took are not cruel and unusual punishment. (“apt-get update && apt-get upgrade && apt-get dist-upgrade” Wow.)

Anyways, I ran the installer per the PDF documentation that reads like it was made by the marketing department. It managed to make it through after doing a bunch of kooky stuff to remind me that it is just a shell script, not a packaging system. (Note that if you run it twice, it’ll fail because lighttpd is already installed. Maybe this bug that was supposedly fixed last year?).

Once you run the startup script, if you connect to the host you’ll get something like this:

404 Not Found
The path '/' was not found.

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/usr/lib/python2.3/site-packages/cherrypy/_cprequest.py", line 551, in respond
cherrypy.response.body = self.handler()
File "/usr/lib/python2.3/site-packages/cherrypy/_cperror.py", line 198, in __call__
raise self
NotFound: (404, "The path '/' was not found.")

You need to go to http://host/dimdim/, the trailing slash is essential.

This time around the site was less responsive. Sometimes when you start a meeting and you install the plugins the first time, the connect to the meeting fails. Attempts to start a new meeting fail with “Exceeded server limit of meetings”. I thought this was a bug, which I worked around by restarting the server. But this time I restarted the server, joined a meeting, then tried to create another one and got this message. Let’s make this clear since dimdim doesn’t.

The Open Source Edition of Dimdim is intentionally crippled.

You can only have one active meeting at a time. While their editions page mentions that ‘dimdim pro’, a SaaS product, only allows one meeting at a time, the OSS column merely says ‘Free’ in that box. This is really perturbing. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were up front about it. There’s a thread here and here on the official sourceforge forums with no official responses. Someone there talks of having reverse engineered the limitation, but it’s a “email me” type talk, not an open discussion.

Grepping for ‘maxConcurrentConferences’ in the dimdim install shows it set to 50 in the dimdim.properties file. The forum post refers to a comment of:

## NOTE : In this Open Source Edition only 1 Meeting at a time is allowed. If you need a Dimdim Meeting Server with higher capabilities then please
## contact sales@dimdim.com.

However my dimdim.properties lacks any such note. Perhaps in the source code rather than the slightly older centos installer it says this. This value is set to 50 by default in my config files, I recall seeing some mention somewhere that this limit was in a jar file.

I later found a thread by a user complaining that only five or six users could get into a meeting. This response appears to be by a dimdim employee and states:

Open Source SF edition of dimdim is a personal edition of the meeting server and is meant to cater to single meeting. We have currently placed the restrction to upto 5 participants. For larger meetings, the resources required increase significantly and require dedicated servers.
Please use the hosted dimdim edition – for hosting larger meetings. We also provide an enterprise server build for on-premise installations.

Someone replies with the same sort of arguments that seem obvious to any OSS fan, and links to a webarchive copy of dimdim’s website where they say:

Dimdim makes extensive usage of open source components and products and hopes that someday Dimdim itself will be useful to others in the way others have been useful to it. Big thanks to the communities and individuals of all the open source projects used in Dimdim.

I assume at some point the company had OSS fans, and management has pushed it away from OSS.

Sigh. Dimdim is a very pretty waste of time.

8 thoughts on “dimdim on centos (fail)

  1. btm

    Steve Chazin contacted me about these posts and didn’t realize the OSS release was the way it was. Seemed like a nice guy that had his head on straight. However, supposedly the CTO was going to contact me, I don’t know what about, but I never heard from him.

  2. Adam Monsen

    @btm, thank you for this very informative writeup. I’m currently trying to make some FLOSS easily installable and “developable”, and I understand how hard this can be. But intentionally crippling the software? I wonder if that’s a violation of the GPL.

    I see the previous comment at Kevin, but he doesn’t mention if version 4.5 is any easier to install.

  3. musarath

    hi, i installed the vm on the windows and started the centos. one i browse to the port 80, it took me to dimdim page. then when i click host meeting it took me to a blank page with a cherry in it. i am really unable to figure it out. can any one help out how to do the installation

  4. Fred Dixon

    Hi btm,

    If you are interested in trying another web conferencing system that does use Debian installers, check out bigbluebutton.org. The project offers instructions on how to install BigBlueButton in 5 minutes on Debian.


    The project offers a downloadable VM that you can run on VMWare player. The project is still in its early stage (so you can easily point out things that are needed, and it may crash, or it may not), but it supports VoIP, desktop sharing, uploading of slides, sharing of web cams and chat.

    And there are no hard-coded limits using the system.

    Regards,… Fred

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